37 000 Burundian refugees have repatriated from Tanzania.

A total of 37,000 Burundian refugees have voluntarily repatriated to their country from Tanzania from January to September, this year, bringing the total to 48,930 who have returned home voluntarily since September 2017, reports the Tanzanian news The Citizen.

Bill Marwa/Oxfam

According to a March 2018 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the move follows a meeting between Tanzania, Burundi and UNHCR which produced a work plan entailing the repatriation of approximately 2,000 refugees per week from April 5, to 31 December 2018, reports the Tanzanian newspaper the Citizen.

As set by a tripartite meeting on voluntary repatriation in March, it was planned that 72,000 Burundian refugees were expected to be repatriated to their country from Tanzania by December this year.

But despite this, one Burundi official said that UNHCR has failed to meet this target due to lack of logistical insufficiency

Many returnees were originating from Muyinga, Ruyigi, Cankuzo, Makamba and Rutana provinces.

WHY IT MATTERS: UNHCR has been quoted as saying it has failed to repatriate 2,000 refugees per week due to the insufficiency of logistical equipment as sometimes it was forced to repatriate between 1,000 and 2,000 refugees or even less than 1,000 refugees per week. However, the UNHCR report has revealed that 70 per cent of returnees had only one meal per day, 33 per cent of returnees found their agriculture land temporarily occupied by others including family members, while 79 per cent of primary school children were not in school.

Read also: UNHCR fails to meet its goal of Burundian refugees repatriation due to the logistical insufficiency

It was also found that 72 per cent of the returnees did not have birth certificates and 73 per cent did not have National Identity Cards while 29 per cent of them were without access to the health system, many due to financial problems, the paper reports.

UNHCR says in order to make this exercise successful, additional funding is needed.To increase the capacity of transit centres, hire safe transportation, address critical staffing shortages, continue to provide modest return packages, and improve the returnee monitoring framework in Burundi.

It is reported that some refugees in tanzanian camps are stuck in Camps due to lack of transportation to Burundi by UNHCR, where some refugees register for repatriation but are going nowhere as some refugees report. Other refugees prefer to make their own ways by crosiing the border either on foot in order to reach Burundi, bucause they can’t wait for the long time for their case to be processesd for repatriation, one refugee told RegionWeek.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A total of 37,000 Burundian refugees have been voluntarily repatriated from Tanzania from January to September this year. They are among 70,000 refugees who were planned to be repatriated this year. However, this is just half of the refugees who were planned to be repatriated this year in accordance with the Tripartite meeting between Tanzania, Burundi and UNHCR in March this year.

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